We The People

Image and video hosting by TinyPic“We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it…” —President Obama
Sounds innocuous, but ever since I heard President Obama say these words during his State of the Union speech, I’ve been unable to get them out of my head. The entire passage that surrounds this statement just begs for me to take issue with it, but one particular line—“if you abide by the law you should be protected by it”—keeps bubbling up in my brain like so much raw sewage.
Why? I have an aversion to the suggestion that breaking a law negates your privileges rights and protections under U.S. law. On the silly end of the spectrum, that’s like saying that a jaywalker gives up his right to free speech, or that a chick who catches a traffic ticket can’t press charges if someone breaks into her apartment. But it has broad implications in real life: It’s the very idea that makes it okay to take away the voting rights of inmates and ex-offenders across the U.S.; to me, there’s nothing about committing a crime, large or small, that means you have no say in electing the people who create the laws that govern the land where you live. And people across the country use this idea to justify committing hate crimes against undocumented immigrants—hey, they’re in this country illegally, right?

I’m not saying that President Obama is for disenfranchising ex-offenders or beating up immigrants, but I am saying that this very notion that the law does not protect everyone equally, is the foundation that this country was built upon (see the handiwork undone by Amendments 13 through 15, and 19) and we still have a long way to go towards forming “a more perfect union.”

Do you think we all currently enjoy equal protection under the law? Feel we still have some major work to do? Tell me about it!


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